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A Fanfare of Fiction for Festival of Words

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

BEST-SELLING novelists Celia Imrie and Lionel Shriver have joined the line-up for this year’s relaunched Jersey Festival of Words.

Together with Jersey-resident crime writer Peter James and (as previously announced) Sebastian Faulks, author of the modern classic Birdsong, they will be among the stars of fiction taking part in the new-look festival when it returns in September after a two-year break caused by the Covid pandemic.

The five-day programme featuring over fifty writers in all literary genres will be based for the first time in Howard Davis Park, where a large marquee and food village will bring a new atmosphere to both the festival and the park.

For Celia Imrie, who will share a marquee stage with fellow actress and writer Fidelis Morgan to talk about their collaboration on research for Orphans of the Storm, her new novel based on actual characters and events from the Titanic disaster, it will be a return to the Island where she made her name in television 40 years ago playing one of Sgt Jim Bergerac’s girlfriends.

The star of Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel among many other films also enjoys a successful parallel career as the author of romantic novels, often set in Nice. The South of France city is the setting for Orphans of the Storm, a fact-based family drama that continues with the tragic sinking of the great liner in 1912 and its aftermath in New York.

Lionel Shriver, an American journalist, novelist and satirist living in London, is renowned for her uncompromising defence of free speech, as well as for her many acclaimed novels, which often take social issues as their themes.

An outspoken critic of identity politics, her best-sellers have explored topics such as US gun control in We Need to Talk About Kevin, eating disorders in Big Brother and voluntary euthanasia in Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Ms Shriver’s acerbic insights and wide-ranging views on modern life are showcased in her new collection of essays, Abominations,described as having been ‘selected from a career of courting self-destruction’.

Sebastian Faulks has been among the English-speaking world’s most successful and acclaimed fiction writers for over 30 years. He will talk about his latest book, Snow Country, second in a series set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and mirroring his classic French Trilogy.

Multimillion-selling thriller writer Peter James will not have far to travel to Howard Davis Park from his home in Jersey. He will be talking about a stellar career that has seen him hailed as ‘the best crime author of all time’ and about the latest addition, Picture You Dead.

Over 21 million copies of Peter James books have been sold worldwide and 19 titles have been No.1 Sunday Times bestsellers. Picture You Dead once again features Brighton-based Det. Superintendent Roy Grace, currently reaching new audiences with a hit TV series starring John Simm, and this time he takes on a cold case in the shady side of the art world.

Other Jersey-based writers now gaining wider reputations include Dreena Collins, whose debut novel (under the name Jane Harvey), The Landlord of Hummingbird House, won the Eyelands International Award in 2021. Already the winner of numerous awards for her short fiction, Ms Collins will host a workshop on the process of writing and publishing a book series, the second of which will be called Buttercups in the Basement.

A past life of crime, including murder and armed robbery, adds authenticity to the novels of Linda Calvey, the writer formerly known as The Black Widow. The ex-convict will be discussing her new book, The Game, set in the underworld of London and the Spanish Riviera and featuring a female gang boss and her fight to protect both her empire and her family.

Fiction in compelling modern forms will also be part of the festival programme. They include events featuring Jem Calder, whose Reward System has been described as a short story collection that reads like a novel, with a cast of young characters whose lives overlap as they negotiate contemporary city life; and Luke Healy, a Dublin-born cartoonist whose graphic novel The Con Artists was recently published to rave reviews.

Another young writer and artist now receiving critical acclaim is Ania Bas. Having moved to Britain from Poland 15 years ago, she has combined work in text, performance, publishing and social engagement and has just produced her first novel, Odd Hours, as the result of a Faber Academy course. Described as a ‘stunning debut’, the social comedy has been praised by such stars as Marian Keyes and Daisy May Cooper. Ania Bas will be interviewed by Radio Jersey’s Chris Jones at the Highlands College Academy restaurant.

Other venues in the relaunched 2022 Jersey Festival of Words will include the Jersey Arts Centre, Jersey Library, Jersey Zoo and the Memorial Hall in Howard Davis Park. The festival runs from 21 to 25 September. The complete programme will be announced on 1 July and published in a special Jersey Evening Post supplement in the lead-up to the festival.

This year's main event sponsor is Highvern. Funding has also been provided by the Jersey Community Foundation with money from the Channel Island Lottery.

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